Subject 3: Coloured Pencil Impressionism

“High Noon in Pontocho”
coloured pencils and oil pastels. 22 x 27 cm. September 2017

Pencils lend themselves to out-of-focus subject matter as you can use them in such a soft way that they barely leave a mark.  One of my regular subjects is blurry light.  I take many photos at night without a flash.  When I am photographing I focus on something very close up and then with my finger half-depressed on the shutter-release, gently move the lens so that it is looking into the distance.  With this trick I can get totally out-of-focus scenes. “Composition 11” is typical of this…

"Composition II"

“Composition II”290 x 310 mm, 2012

The result is a fairly abstract composition.  I can concentrate on composition; balance, colours and shapes without being bogged down by detail.  There is a lot of room for interpretation in this sort of drawing as the less detail there is in a photo, the more opportunity there is to use one’s intuition.  There are no hard and fast lines to follow and no absolute borders.  You could say it is a kind of impressionism, made with coloured pencils.

"Bus Stop"

“Bus Stop” 230 x 270 mm, 2011

The whitest of whites in my drawings (often the centres of street lights) are made by doing nothing…in other words…it is the pure white of the paper with no pencil at all on.  It is the treatment of the surroundings which make the whites look like they are electrified.  In this way, using pencil is like using watercolour.  The way I work, I barely use a white pencil – just as a watercolourist does not often need to use white paint.

"White Light"

“White Light”210 x 210 mm, 2010

"Lumière" - a street light in Seoul.

“Lumière” – a street light in Seoul. 240 x 270 mm, 2007

The picture above, “Lumière” is a good example of complementary colours at work. How did I get the yellow/orange of the light to be SO yellow/orange?  You wouldn’t necessarily notice but I have mixed lots of purple/blue into the area surrounding the light.  Purple and blue, being the complements of yellow and orange, enable the latter to ‘pop’.

In “White Light” just above “Lumière” you can see the same effect; the pale yellow on the edges of the lantern is surrounded by purple/blue.

Below are some more recent soft-focus or “coloured pencil impressionism” drawings, completed in 2016.





In October 2016 I revisited Paris and so now I am starting a new body of soft-focus Paris work.  I would like to have a whole exhibition of this type of work in 2018.



Show Time 2016

“Show Time”

"Alone in the Upper Marais" 2016

“Alone in the Upper Marais”

Soft-focus drawings from 2017…

"Good Morning Paris" January 2017

“Good Morning Paris”
January 2017

"On the Road" January 2017

“On the Road”
January 2017

"Just a Moment" January 2017

“Just a Moment”
January 2017

“In Town Tonight”
April 2017

“The Elegant 4th”
April 2017

May 2017

“Sideshow Alley”
May 2017


“Rhapsody in Gold”
August 2017

“Irresistible Blanche”
October 2017

Related page about light…Subject 5: Lantern Set

8 Responses to Subject 3: Coloured Pencil Impressionism

  1. Spectacular work. And I think your failure is very compelling.

    • Ha – thanks – your comment about my failure made me smile. The maiko, Kotomi, was compelling though my drawing didn’t do her justice. However I drew her five other times and all the other ones worked out. What a pity she quit being a maiko as she was quite spectacular.

  2. I love your work, and appreciate the tips. I love working in CP, too, but right now I’m mostly playing with my watercolors. I would love to try some mixed media pieces! I discovered your blog through the CP site on FB! 🙂

  3. Beautiful work. Very inspiring. Thank you

  4. I like this blog (Subject 3: Coloured Pencil Impressionism),it is helpful for me.Thank you Julie Podstolski!

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